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Hospital Evacuation Decision Guide

Public Health Emergency Preparedness

This resource was part of AHRQ's Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, which was discontinued on June 30, 2011, in a realignment of Federal efforts.

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Table 2. Illustrative Hospital Evacuations: Type of Disaster and Ultimate Reason for Evacuation

Event Hospitals Pre-Event
Decision
Post-Event
Decision
Ultimate Reasons for Evacuation
Nuclear Reactor Incident (1979) Hershey Medical Center Community General Osteopathic Hospital Harrisburg Hospital Polyclinic Medical Center (Pennsylvania)2 (No advanced warning) Do not evacuate N/A
Northridge (California) Earthquake (1994) 2 trauma centers, 2 general hospitals (private and county), a Veterans Affairs hospital, and a psychiatric hospital3 (No advanced warning) Evacuate (immediately after the earthquake) Structural and nonstructural damage3
Northridge (California) Earthquake (1994) A general hospital (private) and a pediatric hospital3 (No advanced warning) Evacuate (3 to 14 days after the earthquake) Structural damage3
Chemical plant explosion (1997) Helena Regional Medical Center (Arkansas) (No advanced warning) Evacuate Anticipated air quality effects due to nearby explosion
Tropical Storm Allison (2001) Memorial Hermann Hospital and Memorial Hermann Children's Hospital,4 (Texas) Shelter-inplace Evacuate Loss of power
Bomb Threat (1999) Galion Community Hospital5 (Ohio) Evacuate Evacuated prior to the event Anticipated effects of the bomb
Hurricane Katrina (2005) Kindred Hospital New Orleans;6 New Orleans Children's Hospital;7 VA Medical Center of New Orleans;8 Charity Hospital;9 University Hospital (LSU Medical System)10 Shelter-in-place Evacuate loss of power, or security breakdown
Hurricane Rita (2005) University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston, Texas);11 seven hospitals within one medical system12 Evacuate Evacuated prior to the event Anticipated effects of the hurricane
Wildfire (2007) Pomerado Hospital (California)13 Evacuate Evacuated prior to the event Anticipated effects of the wildfire
Rising rivers (2008) Mercy Medical Center (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Evacuate Evacuated prior to the event Anticipated effects of flooding
Levy breach (2008) Columbus Regional Hospital (Indiana (No advanced warning) Evacuate Flooding
Fire (2009) Mt. Sinai (New York City)14 (No advanced warning) Evacuate Fire
Rising river (2009) MeritCare Hospital and MeritCare South University Hospital (North Dakota) Evacuate Evacuated prior to the event Anticipated effects of flooding15
Rising river (2009) Innovis Health (North Dakota)16 Shelter-inplace Do not evacuate N/A

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